Crabby Pants Hits the Suburbs.

If you are between the ages of 35 and 55, if you notice something is different about your periods and if a warning sign flashes before you enter a room, you are likely in perimenopause.  Fuck.

If you are between the ages of 35 and 55, if you notice something is different about your periods and if a warning sign flashes before you enter a room, you are likely in perimenopause. Fuck.

What is going on?  Perimenopause as defined by the Mayo Clinic is “the time period during which (you) make the natural transition to menopause.” As a write this, there is a squiggly red line indicating that I have misspelled it but, no, perimenopause is real.  A significant amount of people like me are going through it right now.  And by “people like me,” I mean the psychotic bitches out there who feel somewhat like those poor bastards who have an alien pushing it’s way out of their stomachs in some horror flick.  Trust me, some days, the alien looks pretty good in comparision.

Generally, I am not the type of person who speaks impulsively.  I choose words carefully.  I posit.  I consider.  Lately, however, things come out of my mouth without so much as a thought.  Literally.  I open my mouth, I say something, and I can see the words spew into an angry gray cloud.  And then I think, oh shit, did I just say that?  Um, yes I did.  There is a distinct rage-like quality to my days that was not present before.  There is a burnt edge around my narrative.  But, lucky me!  I am not alone. Plenty of you are getting your asses kicked too.

Louann Brizendine MD, author of The Female Brain calls perimenopause “the rocky beginning.”  (Because menopause comes next.  Then, apparently, you get to graduate.) There are no clear signs that you have crossed the line from being a normal female human to when you are perimenopausal.  But I have been doing some research and reflecting for you.  So you can be prepared.  And warn people.  Particularly the ones who live in your house.

  • Perimenopause lasts about 2 to 9 years.  Years.  Not months, years.  This seems excessive, don’t you think?  Who can we talk to about this?
  • During perimenopause, estrogen and testosterone levels take a dive.  I bet some of you didn’t even know you produced testosterone.  Ah, but you do.  And it is some really good shit.  Hello sex drive!
  • There is actually a term called “perimenopausal rage.”  What I described is actually well documented in current literature.  It’s pretty common, too.  Hopefully that will come as small consolation to my husband after I just called him an idiot.  *Name calling not recommended*.
  • Periods are either epic heavy like high school and/or come at unexpected intervals.  
    Whoever invented those pads with “wings” was an angel sent right for teenagers and perimenopausal women.  And then, your cycles are like, 14 days, 35 days, 22 days, oops, now…
  • Desperation hits. Naturopaths, gynecologists, psychologists, acupunturists, massage therapists, psychics, palm readers, intuitives and shamans: all are called upon.  When you feel this “off,” you seek who you can to make it better.  Here in suburbia, I know lots of gals who are availing themselves of supplements, birth control pills, therapy and the like.  I do not judge.  I get referrals.
  • Puberty is a lot like perimenopause.   Mood swings, depression, heavy periods, PMS.  Sounds like 11th grade?  Wrong.  It’s now.
  • Something about the word perimenopause makes it sound like a living hell.  Who invents medical words?  Are they behind some curtain somewhere trying to find something that sounds like a disease but is instead a perfectly natural part of aging?   I think we should name it something better.  Like Beatrice.  Or Lover.
  • Acceptance is better than fighting.  Wouldn’t it be better if we stopped fighting it?  I mean, if you’re really miserable then by all means, take some herbal something to take the edge off.  But here is the thing.  It’s happening.  Behind you:  diapers, breastfeeding, no time for yourself.  In front of you:  retirement, travel, more time for yourself.
  • I have to say I’m sorry. A lot.  Apologizing is becoming more fluid for me these days.  I have to do it so often.  It’s really hard to explain something like perimenopause to your kids.  From what I am reading, it gets steadily worse too.  So I am really going to have to bone up on the contrition.
  • When is the good part?  I keep hearing all these people like Oprah and my mom (I know, not really a scientific panel) talk about how great life is after you turn 50.  All of a sudden, you gain the confidence to tell people to shove it and ditch your need to be so nurturing all the time.  You spend significantly less time worrying about what people think.  Bring it on!  Only not yet.  I like my 40’s.
  • There is a reason for brain fog and my overwhelming desire to eat an entire bag of chips!  My brain is being deprived of things like estrogen and progesterone and it thinks bread will help.   Apparently exercise and protein actually do help.  But they aren’t as yummy.

This was not meant to be a rant.  It was meant to be supportive and educational, but it turned into a rant because the writer is all jittery and waiting for something to yell or cry about.  But here’s the good news.  According to Brizendine, every day is different so every day is an opportunity to get it right.

So tomorrow, I will try to remember that thoughts are more important than any pill I can take.  That talking with friends normalizes things.  And taking care of myself includes doing my yoga, remembering (many many times a day) to breathe, an egg is a better choice than a donut, forgiving myself for being slightly irate and allowing my people to hug me.  Reminding myself that time in on my side.  Yes it is.

But for now, I’m going to go read my book and have a lovely cry.

How do you take care of yourself?

It's all in your perspective.

It’s all in your perspective.

Thanks to Barbara Paulsen at Mt. Hood Mama Photos for the images at top and bottom of this post.

There are MILF’s among us…

A suburban MILF

A suburban MILF

As a word of caution, this post will inevitably contain the f-bomb.  Prepare accordingly.

Both in the blogosphere and in my suburban neighborhood, I have been hearing this word (if you want to call it that) fairly often.  For the uninitiated, MILF is an acronym created by a young man in the movie American Pie to delineate “moms I’d like to fuck.”  Crude, yes, but we are talking about teenage boys.  MILF seems to me to be a term used primarily in relation to 40’s-ish moms who are deemed attractive to young men.  It’s one of those words (I will use the term “word” from now on, knowing that it is in fact an acronym) that seems to pervade the culture in a slow and steady way, until it becomes a moniker that we can all understand.  Even though my friend Barbara had to look it up.  Which made me like her even more.

In the blogosphere, there has been a huge debate going on mostly led by Danielle Smith of extraordinarymommy.com.  She finds the term offensive, believing that it is demeaning to women in that we may feel the need to make ourselves look hot for the opposite sex.  She goes on to say that being called a MILF is not a compliment and never was, however, goes to great pains in her radio interview on “Q” to say that when she goes out with friends, young men hit on her and the silly little fools don’t realize that she is older than she appears.  She also says the term feeds into a misogynistic society’s desire to pigeon-hole women into an ideal of pornographic object.  Her last point is that the word itself is shocking, so as to align with our current culture of “reality” programming: fast, loose and sell-worthy.  While I agree with her assertion here, let’s not kid ourselves.  Ms. Smith on her site is selling her book and her brand, and she righteously says she is not going to use profanity.  She does say, “oh my heavens” though.

All this debate about MILF’s started when Ms. Smith received a press release about a book called “The MILF Diet:  Let the Power of Whole Foods Transform your Body, Mind and Spirit,” by Jessica Porter.  I know, at first read this title seems at cross purposes:  How does eating in a clean way make you a dirty and naughtly girl?  But apparently, Ms. Porter has some very clear ideas on MILFdom.  A true MILF is confident, sexy and radiates natural feminity, she says.  Really?  Go back to the American Pie clip and you will see the original MILF in a self -aggrandizing photo looking anything but natural.  Clearly, it’s a ploy to sell a book.  Both of these women have persuasive bones of contention, but both have a financial interest in their defending their side of the argument.  I, however, do not.

My friend Taryn has, in her authentic and exuberant way, put together a running team for an upcoming event.  The name of the group?  “The Vantucky MILF’s.”  Obviously not landing on Ms. Smith’s side of the argument, she sees the term as empowering and a great way to rally the troops.  Having not officially signed up for the team yet, I can say that I think that this type of mommy-promotion is great.  When in years past, can you remember a mom being called outwardly sexy?  There was a latent Carol Brady sexuality some might say, but it has truly come to fruition in the term MILF.  This generation is not content to sit on the sidelines while younger women pass them by.  So what?  I am of the camp that if it makes you feel good and it’s not hurting anyone, then go ahead and own it.  If feeling attractive to the opposite sex is not something you are interested in, then let it go.  Most women I have unscientifically polled would take it as a compliment, but not all.  So if you don’t, fine.  But really, can’t it just be a little bit fun?

But here’s the neuroscience facts, ladies.  We are complex sexual beings.  In Louann Brizendine M.D.’s compelling book, “The Female Brain,” she states that basically, we need to relax.  Unlike men, it takes a lot of “neurochemical stars to align” to feel comfortable in the bodies we inhabit. A certain amount of letting go, thanks to that lovely little structure called the amygdala, is required to get there.  So, if seeing yourself as a MILF and proclaiming it helps you along, what’s the harm?  You may be more inclined to eat whole foods, go for a run, bake a pie or even start a business to feel desirable and alluring.   Whatever works.  Of course, like many of you, I do not look forward to the day when, perhaps my daughter might ask me what a MILF is.  (She recently asked me what a prostitute was.  Eesh.)  But I am sure on my feet and in my words, so I know the answer will come.  Popular culture dictates that all things provocative and in-your-face are of the moment.    However, I am also confident that, with our help, the generation we are raising knows the difference between “reality-tv” and well,  reality.  We have to keep making that distinction for them.  It’s a new and challenging aspect of being a parent in our time.

In the meantime, I enjoy seeing how the word makes it’s way through our culture.  I am not in control of it, and am powerless to rail against it even if I was so inclined.

What about you?

Photo courtesy of Mt. Hood Mama Iphoneography